×

Bill Owens Named Executive Producer at ’60 Minutes,’ Starting New Era

Bill Owens was named just the third executive producer in the history of the venerable “60 Minutes,” capping off a period of uncertainty at the long-running newsmagazine and kicking off a new era at CBS News.

Owens has been serving as the leader of the program during an interim period, and his ascension to the top role comes as CBS News is about to get a new president, Susan Zirinsky. Owens has been the executive editor of the program, and CBS executives have been impressed with his handling of the show in the 2018-2019 season. Under Owens’ aegis, “60 Minutes” has placed an emphasis not only on deeply reported pieces but also on nabbing interviews with news-makers and politicians in the midst of breaking events.

Tanya Simon, a senior producer at “60 Minutes,” is expected to take on a new, elevated role at the program, according to a person familiar with the matter.

He replaces Jeff Fager, the former executive producer of the show, who was ousted in September of last year after sending a threatening text to a CBS News reporter who was working on a story about allegations made against him about harassment and tolerating abusive behavior at the show. Fager has denied the claims.

The move is a vote of confidence in Owens’ abilities. “60 Minutes” is one of the flagship media properties of CBS Corp.,and not to be tinkered with lightly.  Though the show has evolved with the decades, it carries with it a history and gravitas that few TV-news properties can match. What’s more, the program has proved over many seasons that it can hold a chunk of the audience that tunes in to CBS to watch football on Sunday afternoons and then funnel them to primetime selections. “God Friended Me,” a freshman CBS series that airs after “60 Minutes” this season, was recently renewed for a second cycle.

Owens called being named to the new role “an inspiring responsibility and a privilege,” in a prepared statement and added, “I am honored to work alongside the best journalists in the business who cover the most important stories from around the world. I promise that will never change.”

He will report to Zirinsky, who, before she was named to replace David Rhodes as president of CBS News, starting in March, was also considered a contender to lead the program. She said that Owens “has led the broadcast to some of its most important and timely journalism these past few months, during one of its most crucial periods.,” in a statement. “We are fortunate to be able to put such a talented veteran in charge of this iconic program. I am confident that with Bill and the seasoned team of journalists involved in this broadcast you will see more of the kind of work that’s made ’60 Minutes’ the most-watched news program in America.”

Owens had been executive editor of the show since June 2008, and has helped guide the program editorially while managinga staff of reporters and editors. He has supervised and helped shape nearly 1,000 stories on the show. In the first broadcast of this season, he produced a profile of former Beatle Paul McCartney. In 2012, Owens co-executive produced and launched “60 Minutes Sports,” a monthly sports-focused edition of the show that ran five seasons on CBS-owned cable-outlet Showtime.

He joined the newsmagazine’s senior staff as senior broadcast producer in 2007 after working in a similar role at “CBS Evening News.” He has produced many segments for correspondent Scott Pelley, and first joined the show in 2003, after working at “60 Minutes II.”  Previously, Owens was the CBS News senior White House producer, and was. Owens was the anchor producer for Paula Zahn and Harry Smith when they anchored a previous edition of “CBS This Morning.”

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

  • Peter Fonda Dead: 'Easy Rider' Star

    Peter Fonda, Star of 'Easy Rider,' Dies at 79

    Two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider,” then showed Hollywood he could act about three decades later in “Ulee’s Gold,” died on Friday from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. His sister Jane Fonda [...]

  • CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to

    CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to Sarajevo

    When the organizers of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Industry Days surveyed the local TV landscape several years ago, they recognized the chance to make an impact. “We decided five years ago that we need to do something,” says CineLink industry coordinator Armin Hadzic. “The [regional] TV and public broadcasters were coming from another age.” [...]

  • SCHOOLED - ABC's "Schooled" stars Bryan

    'Kids Are Alright' Creator Joins 'Schooled' Season 2 as Showrunner

    Tim Doyle is taking over as showrunner and executive producer on the upcoming second season of “Schooled” at ABC, Variety has confirmed. Doyle takes over from Season 1 showrunner and series co-creator Marc Firek, who has exited the series to focus on development. The news comes just months after Doyle’s 1970s-set comedy series, “The Kids [...]

  • Matthew Miller'Lethal Weapon' TV series screening,

    'Lethal Weapon' Team Lands Put Pilot Order at Fox for Cop Drama 'Dead Eddie' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Matt Miller and Alex Taub are staying in business with Fox. The pair, who previously worked together on Fox’s series adaptation of “Lethal Weapon,” have scored a put pilot commitment at the broadcaster for a new drama project, Variety has learned exclusively. The drama is titled “Dead Eddie.” In the series, after a near-death experience, misanthropic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content